he glory of the Jews should be marred. (1-11) All ranks
should suffer misery, An earnest exhortation to repentance.
(12-17) An awful message to Jerusalem and its king. (18-27)
Verses 1-11: It was usual with the prophets to teach by signs. And we
have the explanation, ver. (9-11). The people of Israel had been
to God as this girdle. He caused them to cleave to him by the
law he gave them, the prophets he sent among them, and the
favours he showed them. They had by their idolatries and sins
buried themselves in foreign earth, mingled among the nations,
and were so corrupted that they were good for nothing. If we are
proud of learning, power, and outward privileges, it is just
with God to wither them. The minds of men should be awakened to
a sense of their guilt and danger; yet nothing will be effectual
without the influences of the Spirit.
Verses 12-17: As the bottle was fitted to hold the wine, so the sins of
the people made them vessels of wrath, fitted for the judgments
of God; with which they should be filled till they caused each
other's destruction. The prophet exhorts them to give glory to
God, by confessing their sins, humbling themselves in
repentance, and returning to his service. Otherwise they would
be carried into other countries in all the darkness of idolatry
and wickedness. All misery, witnessed or foreseen, will affect a
feeling mind, but the pious heart must mourn most over the
afflictions of the Lord's flock.
Verses 18-27: Here is a message sent to king Jehoiakim, and his queen.
Their sorrows would be great indeed. Do they ask, Wherefore come
these things upon us? Let them know, it is for their obstinacy
in sin. We cannot alter the natural colour of the skin; and so
is it morally impossible to reclaim and reform these people. Sin
is the blackness of the soul; it is the discolouring of it; we
were shapen in it, so that we cannot get clear of it by any
power of our own. But Almighty grace is able to change the
Ethiopian's skin. Neither natural depravity, nor strong habits
of sin, form an obstacle to the working of God, the new-creating
Spirit. The Lord asks of Jerusalem, whether she is determined
not be made clean. If any poor slave of sin feels that he could
as soon change his nature as master his headstrong lusts, let
him not despair; for things impossible to men are possible with
God. Let us then seek help from Him who is mighty to save.